As we are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine rollout well underway, many are feeling the urge to travel or at least begin planning their next vacation with family or friends. As a full-service travel agency and tour operator (Ellison Travel & Tours), over the recent months we’ve seen a major increase in travel inquiries and questions about what travel is expected to look like. With government advisories, travel restrictions and public health information evolving daily, it has never been more crucial to consult with travel experts when planning your future getaways to ensure your best interests are looked after. Here are 5 tips and considerations for safe and responsible travel in a post-pandemic world.
1. Plan Now.
Start planning now to avoid disappointment. Lockdown has made many of us reflect on how we want to live our best lives, places we want to see with loved ones and experiences we want to check off our bucket lists. With this pent-up appetite, and other countries further ahead in terms of vaccination status and the green light to travel, plus the high volume of future travel credits to be used – demand has actually never been higher! We are already seeing many sun destinations, hotels, cruises and tours for 2022 selling out. Many travel providers are offering risk-free booking and flexibility should plans need to be postponed or canceled due to reasons related to the pandemic. Consulting with a travel advisor can help ensure you are planning wisely and make sense of the fine print.
2. Travel Safely & Responsibly
Health, safety and responsible travel are more important than ever. As a certified Safe Travels tour operator – a designation provided by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), we follow public health guidance and work with likeminded suppliers who share our dedication to public health and safety and strict hygiene protocols. These protocols developed together with global public health authorities are being implemented by governments and industry partners worldwide (including airlines and other transportation providers, hotels, cruise lines, restaurants etc.). This commitment to safety is something to look for when choosing a travel provider. It’s important to be up-to-date on what the local/in-destination public health requirements are to ensure the safety of yourself and others. It is also highly recommended that travellers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – not only to protect themselves but also those in the destinations they visit. Vaccinations will most likely be a requirement of the destination country, airline, travel insurer or other travel providers at the time of travel.
3. Buy Travel Insurance
The pandemic has brought to light just one of many reasons it is important to ensure you have travel insurance coverage. Many are under the assumption that they have travel or medical coverage through their credit card, however this coverage is most often very limited. When booking travel, check to see what your current travel insurance policy is if you have one, and speak with a travel advisor who can provide information on specific coverage related to COVID-19. Within Canada – even under normal circumstances, not all costs are covered under OHIP when outside of Ontario and this also applies to COVID-19. For international travel, some destinations have made COVID-19 insurance coverage an entry requirement, so you may not be able to travel without it.
4. Explore Within Your Comfort Zone
Know your own comfort level and plan accordingly. If the thought of international travel seems daunting, there are many options to explore within our beautiful province and country. Many clients are also seeking out experiences embracing the outdoors, and there is so much to offer both within Canada and internationally, whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation – or somewhere in between. Your travel advisor can also suggest more comfortable options that minimize contact and crowds, such as use of private guides and drivers versus public transportation, villa or homestay options to avoid crowded hotels, and minimizing unnecessary stops or layovers. At Ellison, we specialize in customized group travel and can design a ‘bubble’ trip designed specifically to your needs and comfort level.
5. Book with a Travel Advisor
Never has this been more necessary! Navigating this new world of travel is especially daunting not to mention risky right now, even for the most savvy and resourceful of travellers. Prior to the pandemic, the industry experienced a ‘return of the travel agent’ due to the growing complexity of travel. Now with flight schedules in flux due to the changing consumer demand, destination entry/exit requirements, public health and government travel advisories changing, there is simply too much to stay on top of and we expect this will be the way forward. Travel Advisors are a wealth of knowledge and resources, and can help you make informed choices based on the latest information, ensure you meet the necessary requirements and are protected with the best insurance coverage for your needs. They take the stress out of the planning process, and are available should you need assistance during your travel. During the pandemic, travel advisors were tireless advocates for their clients spending hours on the phones processing insurance claims, refunds and credits. If you currently have a go-to travel advisor, please keep working with them (I don’t need to tell you how valuable they are!). If you don’t, our advisors are more than happy and available to help look after any of your future travel needs.
Travel has undoubtedly changed and will continue to be complex. In some ways though travel will be changed for the better – turning us into more conscious travellers, appreciative of the travel opportunities and experiences we are so privileged to have. Until then…when you are ready to start planning your future travels, Ellison is here and available to help. Visit www.ellisontravel.com for more information or call us at 1-800-265-7022.